Pilchards are among the oiliest of fishes, and much valued on that account either as bait or ground bait. So far as Britain is concerned, they are not generally found very far beyond the coasts of Cornwall and Devon. The inside of a pilchard, though somewhat difficult to keep on the hook, will attract almost any fish that is to be found in the sea. It is a particularly good bait when mackerel fishing at anchor, in midwater or near the bottom, and there is nothing better in the ground-bait net. If the flesh is used, the pilchard may be cut up in exactly the same manner as the herring, but the scales should be very carefully scraped off while it is still fresh. If it has dried at all, it should be soaked before this is done. But it is not a good thing to cut the bait into pieces until just before it is going to be used, for the oil which bleeds from the severed portion is, as I have said, very attractive. In Cornish waters a long strip from the side of a pilchard is a favourite bait for large pollack. Begin the cut by taking the whole width of the tail, together with some of the cartilage, and cut away gradually, tapering to a point near the shoulder. Some men start the cut at the shoulder. The hook should be stuck through the piece of cartilage at the tail end, the remainder of the bait streaming out and waving about in the current. Pilchards are sometimes salted down for use as baits, but when this is done they should be soaked in fresh water for some hours before being used.


Prawns, though excellent baits for almost all sea fish, are too scarce to be commonly used. They are most deadly if placed on the hook alive, when pollack and bass will take them readily. Peeled (unboiled) they are, like shrimps, a capital bait for mullet, flat fish, eels and smelts. Sometimes they are used boiled, but this I consider a mistake. If a live prawn is used the hook should be simply put through its tail.